Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday Moths & unwanted Badger signs!

This beautiful Carpet-like moth was in the trap this morning....trouble is, I can't find out what it is. Hopefully I'll be able to  update this with an identification soon.
Update: Thanks to MoreMoth at iSpot who has identified this as the May Highflyer. It's no wonder I couldn't identify it because this individual is so much more dramatic than the illustrations in the literature that I have. The streaks at the corners of the wings are helpful id features.

This Turnip Moth looks pretty harmless, but its one of a family whose larvae - called cutworms - can be a serious pest of cereals and other crops.

Vine's Rustic...I'll keep uploading photos of this because I want to get this species 'into my head'!

I had my first Isle of Wight Caddis Fly in the trap this morning, too!

So, more good news for the back garden.....the bad news was apparent in the front garden:

Carole's flower pots, with their nice damp soil, made a very attractive dinner setting for Brock the Badger last night! Carole was not pleased!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Badger activity

I left the trailcam at Sett C yesterday evening.

I think that I picked up 4 different Badgers. The footage shows 3 of them: the sow and cub, and then another cub together with the first one. I'm still not sure as to what is going on here. Is it a sibling or from a different family? At the end of the sequence there's a very brief clip of a Red Fox passing through.

Wednesday Moths

Moth numbers continue to rise, though I've got nowhere near the numbers or variety that some people seem to be getting!

These two Willow Beautys were settled nicely.

I initially thought that this was a Spruce Carpet, but the streaks towards the outer edges of the wings suggests that it is a Cypress Carpet. The UK Moths website gives the following information: First found in West Sussex in 1984, this species has now become established in parts of southern England, such as the Isle of Wight, Hampshire and Dorset. It feeds on Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) and Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii). The moths fly in May and June, with a second generation in August and September.

I'm assuming that this must be Foxglove Pug, though the streaks on the wing are not present on the literature that I've got!

And I'm also assuming that this is a Vine's Rustic - I get quite confused with these and Common Quakers....over time I'm sure I'll become more confident if I keep hammering away at these identifications!

Finally, two moths that I've got no idea about:

This is one of those that I feel I should be able to identify...
Update: Thanks to MoreMoth at iSpot for identifying this as Pale Mottled Willow. The dark marks along the leading edge of the wing, together with the white flecks around the kidney-mark are distinctive and should help me to identify with with confidence in the future.

...but I'm not holding great hopes out for the identification of this Pug!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Totland Orchids

Yesterday morning I had to visit the funeral directors in Totland, so I took the opportunity to pop along to Totland Recreation Ground where I'd been told there were a number of orchids. It was encouraging to see that a strip of grass had been left unmown for them.

It was wonderful to come across hundreds of Green-winged Orchids. Unfortunately the vast majority were past their best now.

When I first saw them from a distance, I assumed that they were Early Purple Orchids, but then I noticed that the leaves were unspotted and confirmed the identification by the presence of the green veins on the outer sepals.

I then spotted a few plants of a different species.

I think these are Southern Marsh Orchids.

Tuesday Moths

Still only 12 species this morning, but some great moths!

I love the big feathery antennae on this male Pale Tussock, just right for picking up the scent from females. The adults don't actually feed, but the caterpillars do. They used to be called hop dogs in past times...but not affectionately by hop-growers I might add!

The long white wedge along the inside edge of the wing - extending to half way down the wing or so - suggests that this is a Swallow Prominent, rather than the similar Lesser Swallow Prominent.

This is confirmed by the indistinct white line here on the inside edge of the hind wing. It runs parallel to the wing edge rather than being perpendicular to it.

I think that this is a Mottled Pug with its elongated central wing spots above black wedges and the pale outer cross-band that is kinked near the tip.

And I'll probably need help on this micro!
Update: Thanks to Chris at iSpot for confirming this as Epiblema cynosbatella, the yellow labial palps clinching it. According to the literature, this species is very partial to roses, both wild and cultivated.

Other species: Garden Carpet (2); Buff Tip; Shuttle-shaped Dart; Common Quaker; Treble Lines (3); Lychnis; Heart & Dart (3) & Light Brown Apple Moth.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I continue to really enjoy putting the trailcam out - you never know what you're going to pick up. Yesterday evening I placed it by a tributary of the Western Yar River on Afton Marsh and retrieved it 24 hours later. There wasn't much footage on it....but there was a fascinating story:

A Wood Mouse turns up and has a sniff around. Later a black Cat appeared and, tragically for the Wood Mouse, managed to snaffle it up. Considering that it must be pitch-black, it shows just what amazing hunters cats can be!

A third mammal had shown up earlier....yup, you've guessed it - a Brown Rat! :-)

Monday Moths

14 species in the moth trap this morning, a haul which reminds me of a trip down the high street:

There's the opticians - with the latest must-have glasses being modelled here by The Spectacle!

...the carpet shop, this being a Garden Carpet. And then we're going to need some fruit & veg:

So we've got a Currant Pug....
Update: It's been suggested that this may be a Common Pug - any thoughts from people more knowledgeable than me gratefully accepted!

And a Cabbage Moth!
Update: Thanks to Melissa for pointing out that this is not, in fact, a Cabbage, but a Lychnis. This moth-trapping is a great way of learning humility!

Back to the serious business with a couple of unidentified micros:

This was tiny....but the palps (if that's what they are) look very unusual.

And I'm struggling with this one.
Update: Rhoman at iSpot thinks that this is a Eudonia species, the shape of the wings suggesting Eudonia angustea.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Moths - First LYU!

By mid-Summer many moth-trappers find that their traps are regularly invaded by regiments of Large Yellow Underwings....or LYUs as they are often inscribed in their personal records. The first one of the year turned up this morning.

They're big, gangly and have attitude! But you've got to give them credit - you will find them as far south as northern Africa, as far east as India, and as far west as the United States where they have recently been recorded in Alaska after having been introduced to the continent a while back, presumably accidentally (see here).

I almost missed this beautiful male White Ermine moth. As I was packing the moth trap away I suddenly noticed it fluttering across the lawn, the white wings making quite a contrast with the green grass. I picked it up and it suddenly died.....just like that. I felt a bit guilty....and confused. I was sure that I hadn't crushed it that badly between my, admittedly big, fingers. After giving it a send-off in a local nettle patch, I retired indoors where, reading up on the species, I discovered that it is a species famous for dying and playing dead! Well, it certainly fooled me!

Finally, what I think is a Poplar Grey which, I thought, was a very handsome looking moth!

Other species present were Light Brown Apple Moth (3), Bee Moth (2), Codling Moth, Treble Lines, Monopis obviella (I reckon the same one keeps coming back!), Common Quaker, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Muslin Moth (a grey male) and Flame Shoulder.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Moths

11 species in the trap this morning (and, surprisingly, no Cockchafers!).

 I've often seen the Yellow Shell flying about during the day, and it was a bit of a surprise to find one in the moth trap this morning. It's another beautiful moth that is so easily taken for granted. The name comes from the association of the pattern on the wings with similar patterns on some seashells.

Whilst doing a Google Search on the species, I came across this Yellow Shell necklace.

I love these Sallow Kitten I'm looking out for the less common Alder & Poplar Kittens!

Finally, a photograph documenting the sad demise of a Buff Tip!

Other moths present were Treble Lines (2), Muslin Moth (a grey male), Shuttle-shaped Dart, Double-sriped Pug, Monopis obviella, Brown House Moth, White-shouldered House Moth and Twenty-plume Moth.

Beautiful orchids

I came across some of these beautiful orchids on the undercliff below Headon Warren a few days ago.

 I'm struggling to identify them. The leaves are unspotted and they've got flowers which are delicately pink-spotted. I wonder if they are a hybrid - maybe Common Spotted x Southern Marsh Orchid which, I understand, does occur in this area?

I found these 'diggings' into the cliff down on the beach. I wonder if it was a Badger, maybe considering setting up home before deciding that it wasn't a good idea?

There were 7 Sandwich Terns around - 5 were fishing and these 2 were taking a rest!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Glanville Glamour!

In 1842, young Edward Newman discovered the Glanville Fritillary on the Isle of Wight 'with a feeling of triumph'. 170 years later old Stephen Plummer finally caught up with the Glanville Fritillary on the Isle of Wight 'with a feeling of triumph'! :-)

During a walk over Freshwater Cliffs with the IOW Butterfly Conservation branch we came across several and they didn't fail to disappoint.

The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland by Thomas and Lewington is the butterfly Bible that should adorn the bookshelf of everyone interested in learning more about these wonderful insects. Jeremy Thomas introduces the section on the Glanville Fritillary thus:

'I have had the pleasure of studying the ecology of all eight British fritilleries and, to my mind, the Glanville is both the loveliest and the most interesting. it is probably also the rarest, being confined nowadays to perhaps a dozen sites on the Isle of Wight, to a few on Alderney and Guernsey, and to two introductions on the English mainland. Any of them is worth visiting in May. They are beautiful locations in their own right, most being warm, sheltered undercliffs, carpeted with wild flowers such as Thrift and Common Bird's-foot-trefoil, which form the butterfly's principal nectar sources. The Glanville Fritillery's delicate underwings are especially attractive seen against these pink and yellow blooms, and it is a fine butterfly in flight, whether gliding swiftly through still air or battling with whirring wingbeats against a sea breeze.'

I'm looking forward to a Glanville summer! :-)

It was good to meet new friends, too. Other butterflies seen were Small White, Large White, Common Blue, Small Blue, Small Heath, Dingy Skipper, Small Skipper, Green Hairstreak and Wall. I found an impressive female Fox Moth and we also examined a Garden Tiger caterpillar....and avoided a Brown-tail caterpillar!!

Friday's Moths

The moth species in the trap are steadily increasing now that we're getting a prolonged spell of decent weather.

This was my favourite....a beautiful Orange Footman - new for me. According to the book they're found down south & local! I love that colour!

And, talking about colour, this one is aptly-named, too - the Brimstone.

I can't work out why this one is so-named, though - Knot Grass! Any ideas?

I think that this is an Engrailed. If it is, it's a new one for me.

And a little micro. I went to iSpot for help with this one, and Douglas suggested that it was probably Monopsis obviella - it certainly looks good for that species.

Finally, this one poses an identification challenge to say the least! The general feeling seems to be that it's a somewhat jaded Angle Shades!

The other species were Shuttle-shaped Dart, Buff Tip (2), Common Quaker, Treble Lines (2), Red Twin-spot Carpet, Nut-tree Tussock.....and 5 Tachystola acroxantha...that former RDB3 species that I got excited about yesterday!! :-)